Medical literature refers to articles in journals and texts in books devoted to the field of medicine.
Contemporary and historic views regarding diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of medical conditions have been documented for thousands of years. The Edwin Smith Papyrus is the first known medical treatise. Initially most described inflictions related to warfare. This was because war was the most important part of society and it was the most common way of contracting health problems.
Throughout history people have written about diseases, how human beings might contract them and what could be done to remedy it. Medicine ranged from folklore, withcraft to the current Evidence Based Medicine. Among the most notable descriptions are texts from Egypt (Imhotep, Edwin Smith Papyrus, Ebers Papyrus, Kahun Gynecological Papyrus), Persia (Rhazes, The Book of Healing), Greek (the Iliad and the Odyssey are the first source of Greek medical practise, Hippocratic Medicine), China (Yellow Emperor)
Following Vesalius, William Harvey, Ignaz Semmelweis, Louis Pasteur, and others the medical community have changed the way it conducts research. After incorporating the scientific method medical literature has introduced the so-called peer review, and is currently divided into journals and textbooks.
These are publications in which the medical community shares information. Articles are commonly either original articles or reviews.
- Original articles describe randomized controlled trials which are submitted for peer review following the scientific method.
- Reviews are an overview of one particular topic in order to refresh the readers' memory.
- The New England Journal of Medicine
- The Lancet
- Journal of the American Medical Association
- Annals of Internal Medicine
- Nature Medicine
- BMJ (British Medical Journal)
- Archives of Internal Medicine
After consensus has been reached it is incorporated in textbooks. There are textbooks on every medical specialty and they contain comprehensive discussion on all diseases and their diagnosis, therapy and prognosis. Examples are:
- Cecil Textbook of Medicine
- Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine
- The Oxford Textbook of Medicine